Day 1, 3/16/2017
Left La Paz around noon and motored in pleasant conditions to Ballandra for the night to decompress from the preparation. Nice, relaxing afternoon and evening.
Left Ballandra 6am in Corumuel conditions. Sailed through the Canal de San Lorenzo, caught a Bonito, then the wind died and eventually came back up from the southeast as we passed through the Cerralvo channel and passed Punta Arena de La Ventana. Saw a whale repeatedly tail slapping here. Later in the day conditions calmed back down. Motored throughout the day with both engines to test them.
Motored in calm conditions to Cabo San Lucas, arriving 9am. Saw one whale, briefly. Provisioned in Cabo and then left in the afternoon. Conditions were sporty right from the start, ~20kt from the west and headed south to avoid having to beat. The wind gradually swung around to the NW so that we could maintain a beam reach while heading the correct direction, but maintained its strength through the night.
Day 4 [21:37N, 110:27W]
Winds slacked off slightly to the high teens, pleasant beam reach throughout the day. Gradually adjusting to life at sea, nothing major happened.
Day 5 [19:56N, 112:20W]
During the night winds increased to low 20s, battery charge was an issue and autopilot lost control a few times. Once in the early morning we ended up in irons after this happened and I started both engines to get us out of this. Unfortunately our fishing lines ended up tangled in the starboard propeller as a result, and we sailed through the day without doing any more fishing. Winds steadily declined through the day, at the end we were on a broad reach in the low-mid teens. We’d seen several boats up to this point but I think the morning of this day was the last we would see another boat on the radar for a while.
Day 6 [18:30N, 113:56W]
In the morning winds were still moderate so we dropped sails and I went swimming to clear fishing lines from the propeller. Winds increased later but varied between mid and high teens throughout the day. Late in the day winds shifted back and I tried to set up a whisker pole for the genoa. After messing around with this for a bit we abandoned the attempt and went back to a broad reach for the night. Winds slacked off at night and we adjusted course 20 degrees away to stay on a broad reach.
Day 7 [17:22N, 115:38W]
In late morning I put the genoa on a whisker pole, then set up the free flying jib on the starboard side using our second pole and dropped the mainsail. Later on I needed to lower the free flying jib and got some rope burn on my hand due to poor technique; at the same time the whisker pole’s line attachment point broke. I tried experimenting with a new technique, putting the jib inside one of the spinnaker’s socks and trying to raise it that way, but the sailcloth was too heavy and the the sock opening broke while pulling it down over the sail. This was all pretty stressful and I wasn’t handling it very well, but calmed down and in the afternoon set up the jib again while paying close attention to avoid issues. In the evening winds built to the low 20s. Early in the night the foreguy on the jib’s whisker pole broke, and I went forward and set up a new and heavier duty line in its place. Also, during the afternoon a support for a floor opening in the writing room broke; I tried fixing this, but it broke again late in the evening.
Day 8 [15:31N, 117:13W]
Strong winds throughout the day. During the night Lisa furled the genoa completely; we played with unrolling it a bit but eventually in the afternoon we dropped the free flying jib and partially unfurled the genoa. Winds built in the afternoon to the high twenties, with the largest seas I’ve ever been in. Going downwind was comfortable, though, especially if we didn’t look outside. Caught a bonito in the morning.
Day 9 [14:12N, 118:57W]
Winds dropped during the night to the mid teens. During the day the seas mellowed as well and we had wonderful sailing most of the day, 6 knots and a gentle motion.
Day 10 [12:37N, 120:34W]
Another day of great winds and smooth sailing. Put up the asymmetrical spinnaker for several hours in the afternoon but took it down in the afternoon so we could have more practice using it in the daylight before using it at night. In the evening I was in the writing room and heard a flopping noise above, came up and found a flying fish on the deck, still alive, and threw it back in the ocean (lots of dead flying fish on other mornings).
Day 11 [10:57N, 122:12W]
More great sailing. Ran the spinnaker for much of the day, then back to the free flying jib in late afternoon. Got a small burn on my back from leaning against the stove while in the kitchen.
Day 12 [9:19N, 123:53W]
Winds were in the high teens in the morning so we stayed with the free flying jib. We started seeing rain showers on the radar and got a light sprinkling of rain in the afternoon. After dark winds steadily built to the mid-20s and then it started raining. We furled the genoa completely, but then had a gear failure (it appears the whisker pole on the free flying jib just snapped) in the middle of the night. I went forward in the rain to wrestle the free flying jib down and got it back into the cockpit with Lisa’s help — it was like taking a lukewarm shower and left me feeling refreshed afterwards.
Day 13 [7:47N, 125:21W]
It rained through much of the night and stopped soon before dawn. In the morning conditions were pretty nice, and with the wind shifting toward the east I moved the genoa and our surviving whisker pole to the starboard side and we continued on a broad reach through the day. In the late afternoon a squall moved over us, giving us ten minutes of moderately heavy rain and a little more wind before it moved on. In the evening a fair number of other squalls were visible on the radar, one brushed by us and drizzled a little.
Day 14 [6:11N, 126:45W]
At the start of my 4:00 watch Lisa told me to check out the port engine room which had some water in it. Sure enough, the water came up nearly to the base of the engine; a wiring connection had broken which prevented both the pump and the high water alarm from working. I connected the wires by hand to pump out the bilge and then fixed the connection, but this was a good lesson in the need to verify that these pumps are working as designed. Winds were lighter (low teens) and in the morning I put up the mainsail, one reef at first but then put in the other two reefs when Lisa got concerned. The radiofax charts for the next couple days changed this morning and now predicted the ITCZ would set up in our path in the next day (previously it hadn’t forecast any strong ITCZ anywhere). We started both engines and turned south to minimize the time we would spend in the ITCZ and to cross it more to the east where it seemed like it would be weaker. There were squalls around through the afternoon (though none hit us) but only a few during the night.
Day 15 [3:47N, 127:06W]
We continued on south using both engines. In the late morning it felt like we had passed the ITCZ — skies were clear and sunny, there was some southeast wind, and no squalls had been seen on the radar for several hours. Around noon we turned off one engine and resumed our southwest course towards Nuku Hiva. Conditions continued to be mellow through the day, we tried sailing for a little bit but were only going about four knots so turned the engine back on. The engine promptly overheated and generated a lot of smoke in the engine room, so I shut it down and used the other one for the rest of the evening and night. Several squalls came up in the evening which we were able to dodge.
Day 16 [2:16N, 128:30W]
In the morning I went into the starboard engine room to see what caused it to overheat the previous afternoon. Overnight I’d come to the conclusion it was probably a V belt issue (the alternator hadn’t been working either, and this seemed the only thing that could explain both problems). It was indeed a V belt issue, as the belt had been torn apart (causing the smoke yesterday) after the bolt connecting the alternator to the engine sheared. Dealing with this bolt was a gigantic headache; the rest of the bolt was still in a little tang and I could not get it to budge with penetrating oil, heat, easy-outs, etc. After breaking off an easy-out in the bolt I managed to drill a hole all the way through the bolt, and then broke the drill bit off too. I then used a dremel to cut off the back of the tang and expose the hole the bolt was in; this let me clear the drill bit and start drilling the hole out using larger bits. After breaking several bits I finally got the hole out to 1/4″ (from its original 3/8″) and called it good, installing a new and smaller bolt and getting the engine running again. This procedure took up most of my time over seven hours; while all this was going on we were motor sailing on the other engine in gentle conditions and making good time.
Day 17 [0:33N, 130:00W]
Over the night winds continued to come down and we motored along in calm conditions, nice and relaxing. In the morning I switched engines and changed the oil in the old one (I tried a new technique and it was far easier than previous oil changes; after three years, I have finally learned how to change the oil properly). We motored the rest of the day, pretty relaxing conditions. In late afternoon we crossed the equator, having a small party with champagne and some treats, really nice.
Day 18 [1:14S, 130:59W]
My 34th birthday! In the morning I stopped the engine for an oil change and tried sailing. We were under the main and genoa for a few hours before I put up the spinnaker, which sailed nicely for 15 minutes and then had a failure at the head of the sail and the rest fell in the water, acting like a big sea anchor. I pulled it back aboard and we rinsed it, motored for a bit, and then tried sailing again with the main and genoa. The wind came up a little and we had wonderful sailing the rest of the day and night.
Day 19 [2:31S, 132:28W]
The wind came down early in the morning so we started motoring. The morning had several squalls pass close by (we had entered another convergence zone) and the afternoon was sunny with continuing light winds. The squalls returned in the evening and we got rained on.
Day 20 [3:55S, 134:00W]
Around midnight the wind came up to 12 knots or so but we motored until I got up at 5am and put up a full main and genoa to sail. A few hours later it started getting squally and I reefed the main. It stayed squally through much of the day and in the afternoon both the squalls and winds died off and we started motoring. A fishing boat passed us a couple miles away, the first boat we’d seen (in person or on the radar) in two weeks. In the early evening we passed through a loud group of gulls and frigate birds and others feeding, with fish jumping out of the water as they hunted. I put out the fishing line and didn’t notice until much later but the entire line ran out before the end snapped, I guess it was a pretty big fish that bit (hmm, I need sturdier fishing gear).
Day 21 [5:16S, 135:36W]
Light winds continued through the night so we motored. In mid morning the wind came up to 10-12 on a broad reach so I put up the spinnaker for a bit. It was tricky to get the spinnaker working again after it fell in the water a few days ago, and the first time it went up the inner rope was twisted around the sail and it wouldn’t go up quite all the way. I tried bringing it down and that was very difficult too, and in doing so it got wrapped around another halyard and in general made a big mess. I untangled things and reran the spinnaker through the sock without any twists and it went up all the way this time. We were making 5-6 knots in smooth seas, wonderful sailing. A couple times in the afternoon squalls passed by and I dropped the spinnaker (much easier with the the twists out); after the second time it came down we just went with the genoa, going slow at first but then back to 5 knots as winds picked up a little. In late afternoon we caught a small bonito, great dinner. All in all just a really nice day. In the evening it continued to be squally, and we had sustained winds of up to 30 knots, even away from the squalls. The autopilot was getting overpowered and I went forward to put in the third reef on the mainsail, and in the middle of the night went forward again to drop the main entirely.
Day 22 [6:29S, 136:54W]
Winds slowly decreased through the rest of the night and when I got up at 6:30 they were pretty much dead. We started motoring into a headwind of a few knots. The morning was very gray and we seemed to be behind a big squall, which may have been responsible for the lack of wind. In mid morning the squall moved over us and rained on us for two and a half hours. Squalls continued through the early afternoon with more rain, but then they left us behind and the wind set up again. We sailed for the rest of the day and night on the main and genoa, super nice conditions. In the late afternoon we hooked what looked like a nice tuna, beautiful fish. I was excited to get it aboard and tried to lift it out of the water by the leader, which promptly broke and we lost the fish. Ugh. I was kind of inebriated and vowed to think first before doing new or complicated things in such a state in the future.
Day 23 [7:43S, 138:25W]
Great sailing conditions continued all day, interrupted by a couple squalls that passed nearby. In the afternoon the fishing rod started spinning off line and I went to tend it, only for the fish to get off the lure quickly. I checked the deck mounted reel and found it also had a fish on it (which may have been there for hours), another nice tuna that was still alive but very weak. This time I was careful about getting it aboard, dropping the sails and getting down on the swim step with a gaff hook to get it out of the water and into a bucket. It was about thirty pounds and by far the largest fish I’ve butchered, but after about an hour I cut it up into two big bags of boneless fillets. We relaxed in the cockpit with some wine for the evening, enjoying the wonderful conditions, and had a few fillets for dinner before going on evening watch, delicious.
Day 24, 4/8/2017
In the middle of the night some strong winds started coming intermittently; Lisa was on watch but I came out to help her reef the genoa. There were squalls around which were generating some lightning, and I saw two strikes hit the water off in the distance in front of the boat (did not hear thunder, though). I put the lightning ground cable back in the water and we continued sailing, but none of the squalls hit us and things continued like this until dawn. The winds quieted down and we started motoring as Ua Huka and Nuku Hiva came into view. We watched the sheer green cliffsides and jungles as they came into view, and as we passed beneath the southeast end of the island and smelled the very earthy scent of the island. We arrived in Taiohae Bay around 10am, seeing lots of boats anchored and a small cruise ship (which apparently only comes once every three months), but found a quiet place to anchor pretty easily. A couple guys came by not later to give us a few pounds of a blue marlin they had caught, then later we went to shore to walk around on the main street in town and peruse the shops. It felt very different and nice to be on shore. After a while we came back to the boat and relaxed the rest of the evening. It was especially great to finally get a full night’s sleep together again.
In the morning we went into town, but it was Sunday so things were closed up and we walked around for a bit. Saw some roosters fighting each other, which was neat. We went back to the boat and I fixed a bunch of leaks on the boat, then we went paddleboarding and kayaking together for a bit and had a relaxing evening.
In the morning we went in to check in to the country, using Nuku Hiva Yacht Services. This all went smoothly, then Lisa stayed on shore to use the internet while I went out for a dive. I went out and found a nice looking spot near the mouth of the bay, inside the east sentinel (the east and west sentinels frame the bay’s entrance). I had a great dive, seeing lots of new fish and some familiar fish, plus a manta ray. Fish life at the site was great, and the coral was pretty good too. Visibility was 45′ or so. On the way back I saw several mantas at the surface deeper in the bay, not far from the anchorage. I returned to the boat, cleaned up, picked up Lisa, and we had lunch at the boat. After that we went out to look for the mantas, finding them in about the same place. Lisa went snorkeling and was blown away, there were dozens of manta rays, probably fifty in total, swooping around and feeding in the murky water. She was in for a little while, then we went back to the boat to get the camera gear, then I swam with them for a bit, then she went again. An awesome experience, the rest of the day we just kind of soaked in the high of the snorkeling.
I was concerned about anchoring in areas frequented by mantas after the disaster we had last year at San Benedicto. In the morning I fabricated a new, hopefully manta proof anchor system, using an old halyard and some PVC pipe we had brought down from the US for this purpose. I went diving again at the same spot, trying the new system, which worked pretty well though I did not see any mantas. I saw a great octopus, pretty big and out in the open, then in a system of crevices where he couldn’t really get away from me. I watched him for a while as he changed colors and textures to try to hide from me, and then moved away to give him a chance to make his way to a better crevice, where I left him for good. More good fish on the dive, including several small lionfish hiding under a ledge. After the dive we stayed on the boat for the rest of the day. Lisa spent hours photographing some old journals of hers that had gotten wet, then I gave her a massage.
After breakfast we went into town to get some internet access and see a bit more of things. We walked around town and down some new streets, finding a bunch of houses and fruit bearing trees but not much else. The shops and internet cafe were all closed for some reason and it wasn’t a very productive trip, other than Lisa picking several pampelmousse (a sweet, delicious grapefruit) from trees along the way. We hung around at the boat, then went in for an hour or so for more internet and some food at the cafe near the wharf, then back to the boat for the evening.
In the morning we took care of a couple errands on shore, then went diving together at the same spot I went to on the previous two dives. We took things slowly but conditions were pretty good, though there was a little more surge than earlier. Fun dive, no great sights but we saw a lionfish, a few morays, lots of fish. After the dive Lisa noticed some mantas nearby. We motored over and I hopped in the water with dive gear and camera to get some photos and footage of them, while Lisa handled the dinghy (she was feeling good after the dive and didn’t need to see more of the mantas from the water). There were five or six feeding together, not interested in me but not avoiding me either, pretty nice. In the afternoon we went ashore for a while for internet and some grocery shopping.
I dropped Lisa off in the morning so she could use the internet, then went diving at a new spot. I anchored between the west sentinel and a detached rock on its outside. The swell was low and it was sunny and calm, but this was still pretty adventurous, 70′ of water in a narrow channel between the waves crashing on the two rocks. I went down and found an octopus clutching the anchor, I guess it was fond of shiny things. I shooed it away, set the anchor, and headed counterclockwise around the detached rock, ending at a slightly overhanging wall on its outside. This was a great spot, with several sharks (not interested in me), a turtle, a lot of good sized trevally and some nice schools of surgeonfish and juvenile triggerfish. Great conditions: 50′-70′ of visibility and no current. After getting back from the dive I relaxed a bit, went in to pick up Lisa, and then we left the anchorage for Daniel’s Bay, 5 miles to the west. This is a really beautiful spot, a small and more protected bay than Taiahoe and with spectacular scenery around, mainly a cliff and valley wall stretching back into the island, thousands of feet high. We paddleboarded ashore and I did some moderately exposed scrambling to get to a little high point and take pictures of the boat. On return to the boat I got in the water to cool off and scrub algae off the sides around the waterline, and a little bit later paddleboarded to a nearby beach to scope it out (we’re planning on landing the dinghy there tomorrow) and paddle surf a little bit in the small waves. Lots of fun, and after a nice evening I was exhausted and went to sleep early.
Lots of little flies outside on the boat in the morning enjoying the dew, but they weren’t biting and weren’t coming inside so weren’t a problem (I kind of miss when we were on passage and had no insects on the boat at all). After breakfast we went ashore to start the hike to Vaipo waterfall. This is the tallest waterfall in Polynesia and one of the tallest in the world. Doing the hike took over five hours and was a great experience. The waterfall itself is very tall and magnificent, and the trail took us to some pools near its base, where we could swim right up to a drop shortly below the waterfall proper. We had great weather up to this point, then it opened up and rained hard most of the way back, a very different experience but still very nice with the warm rain and no need to bundle up. The rest of the hike was pretty interesting too; as we left the beach we passed through a small village with lots of fruit trees, then crossing a river and winding through the jungle past many stone walls and other structures, ruins from hundreds of years ago when this area was more populated. We collected a few mangos and saw some wildlife: an eel swimming down the river, and a large crayfish making its way up. We didn’t see anyone the entire time, excepting several residents in the village. We rested at the boat an hour, then headed back to paddle surf / boogieboard together in the puny swell, and to pick up a big bunch of bananas and some limes from someone in town who we’d paid earlier for access to the falls.
I went out solo for another dive in the morning, just past point Temokomoko. The surface water color improved markedly as I got to the point and I wanted to do another dive with great visibility. I anchored in 70′ and checked out the steep walls in the area, which had little coral but lots of fish life. The highlights were a few sharks (or the same shark multiple times), and two octopus side by side in a crack. At first I didn’t realize there were two octopus. After watching one of them and petting it a little I noticed what looked like a detached tentacle nearby. I touched it, and it immediately latched onto my hand and started pulling it into the crack. I had to brace on a rock to pull my hand out, and in the process managed to brush my stomach against another rock and get stung, leaving a five inch welt. The octopus around here mean business; I think the second was using its tentacle as a lure for fish, or maybe it was just an asshole. Our outboard was giving some trouble on the dive, with a low speed idle and dying a few times, but I managed to make it back to Magic alright. After resting a bit we wanted to go out and snorkel, but the outboard was still acting up. I installed a new carburetor we had onboard, and it seemed to be fine, so we headed out. At first we stayed near some fringing reefs inside the bay. We saw several sea turtles and Lisa went snorkeling, but the water was very murky so we stopped quickly. The water was rougher, deeper, and still murky outside the bay, so we headed back and went ashore in the eastern lobe of Daniel’s Bay, hiking around and looking at the plethora of crabs making their homes in the sand, mud, and trees along a small stream.
We left the anchorage in the morning, observing on the way out that the swell had increased considerably from the previous couple of days. I regretted not going for more surfing in the morning, and should pay more attention to the swell and swell forecast. We got into Taiahoe Bay a couple hours later and anchored close to the wharf. After using the internet for a while we tried to go out diving. There were bigger waves than we liked at the spot inside the east sentinel, so we tried one further back. Visibility was terrible (less than 10′) and we surfaced, then tried the wavy spot again. I went down alone, found generally poor conditions, surfaced and told Lisa, who wasn’t interested in diving, then went down again for fifteen minutes before finally giving up. We headed back to the boat to work on our computers. Later in the day an intense squall came through; we tried to collect rainwater using our sun shades and got about fifteen gallons.
Rested most of the day and did some work. In the afternoon I kayaked to the bay to the west to see if there were any surfing options there but did not find anything.
We tried diving in the morning but the swell was still up. We went back to Magic and I dropped Lisa off, then went out by myself. I dove off a wall inside the west sentinel, anchoring in 70′. Right after descending I saw a big marble ray coming towards me, then right after two manta rays approached as well. One was swimming towards the anchor line (which was not yet secured to the bottom) and I tried to catch up with it but it saw the line, reared up and left. The rest of the dive was pretty uneventful, lots of rubble, a little structure and a fair amount of fish.
We got a 24 hour car rental from Yacht Services Nuku Hiva, picking it up when they opened at 8:30. We spent all day driving around the island. Well, Lisa did; the car had a stick shift, which I don’t know how to use. It was really interesting seeing the rest of the island. Generally good concrete roads twisted around through the jungle with lots of great views of the ocean and coastline. We stopped at a couple of sites with ruins, one of which was quite extensive and had some interesting petroglyphs. We went up to the north coast first, came back to Taiahoe bay for lunch (the place we wanted to eat at, Chez Yvonne, was full of tourists from the supply ship, which is also a small cruise ship), then went most of the way to the airport at the northwest end of the island, turning around after we climbed up into the clouds and ran out of views. The upper elevation stuff in the later part of the day was especially interesting, this part of the island has very different flora with lots of conifers and even tree ferns higher up.
Early in the morning we used the rental car and filled up a bunch of jerry cans and got some groceries. Lisa had some more tasks ashore (brought the bike ashore and carried it up onto the wharf for her to use, which went ok) and around noon we started getting ready to leave the anchorage. The rain started right then and continued for a while. We left while it was still raining but after it had started to clear; outside the bay conditions were a little lumpy but winds were pretty light and we made good time to the west lobe of Bahie Controleur, a few miles to the east. Waves were crashing but the anchorage we picked was pretty smooth; we passed by two mantas as we came in, one was right next to the boat. Lots of goats and pigs and other farm animals browsing the hillsides. I went for a short paddlesurf in the afternoon, but it was a rocky bottom and I didn’t get aggressive. I scouted the middle lobe by dinghy and found a nicer looking wave with a sand bottom (Kevin at Nuku Hiva Yacht Services told us about this wave). I started getting ready to go surf this but it was getting late so we paddleboarded together for a bit and had a nice evening.
I got up around first light and left to go surf the middle lobe of the bay. This was fun and I was in the water for an hour and a half or so and got some good rides. About two thirds of the way through I fell off on the wrong side of the board and the wave drove it into my ribs. I doubled over in pain and had trouble breathing for a couple minutes as I walked into the beach (my leash had broken earlier in the session and I didn’t have the board anymore). After resting for several minutes I felt better and tried surfing again, getting another ride but it was hard to paddle aggressively with my discomfort. I went back to the dinghy and returned to Magic to rest; a few hours later I was having a lot of trouble moving (presumably my tissues were inflamed as my body started to heal). I probably cracked a rib, and spent the rest of the day playing videogames and hanging out.
I felt better in the morning but moving around was still painful and the sensible thing seemed to be to continue to rest. So I did for the rest of the day. We thought about going kayaking/paddleboarding in the afternoon but then there was some wind so we didn’t. I don’t think we left the boat all day.
I continued to feel better. We left in the morning for Taiahoe in nice southeast trade winds, though we just motored. A big fish got hooked up but broke the leader quickly after it pulled out all the line on the reel. In Taiahoe we did some work, and went diving in the afternoon. The swell was down but the spot inside the east sentinel was still unappealing so we went back to the spot with horrible visibility the last time we tried it out (4/17). Visibility was much better, 35′ or so, and we had a nice dive with good coral and lots of fish. It was great to do a mellow dive with Lisa, that had been missing from our trip so far and we had a nice evening relaxing afterwards.
We provisioned in the morning at the market and store, which went fine. In the afternoon we hung out and I did some work.
We got up at first light and prepared to leave the anchorage for Anaho Bay, which we thought was about five hours away. After waiting out a short squall we left with conditions looking pretty good. At the mouth of the bay the front attachment on the dinghy broke and the front fell down to the water. I got into the dinghy and got things sorted without too much trouble, and no lost gear. As we continued east weather was pretty but unsettled. We had headwinds which got gradually stronger and then became very strong (25 knots apparent) as we rounded the southeast tip of the island — there was the compression at the cape here, and also a squall passing to the north which was generating additional winds. Waves weren’t too large and the boat handled it fine, so whatever. As we continued north a group of dolphins started following us and were around the boat on and off for about an hour, very cool. Conditions were pleasant as we approached Anaho Bay, and I hooked and then landed a nice tuna, maybe fifteen pounds — the second largest fish I’ve ever caught, but it seemed almost tiny compared to the one we caught at the end of our passage. As we entered Anaho we saw some rain activity at the back of the bay, and as we got about halfway in we were dramatically hit by a wall of rain and wind. The wind came up to 30 knots (per the masthead anemometer, it seemed stronger on the deck) and the rain was at times painful to be in as it pelted me. Visibility was shot and we could barely see the sides of the bay anymore, and we quickly decided to back off and wait in the outer parts of the bay for the weather to pass. The heavy weather continued for about half an hour, then it gradually improved while we waited to make sure and I finished filleting the tuna. It was a relief when we finally got in and anchored and had a wonderful fish burrito lunch. We went kayaking/paddleboarding in the afternoon for a little bit but the weather continued to suck so we mostly relaxed.
After breakfast we motored around with snorkel gear to check out the coral reef in Anaho but found terrible visibility. We went back to Magic and then brought the dinghy to shore using a little channel at the town and tied up to a mooring in knee deep water. We walked around town and across the bay and talked to a few people, then came back along the beach. It was low tide and below the beach there was one long tide pool, which was the best I’ve ever walked through. A few minutes in I spotted an octopus swimming away from me. I followed it and saw it camoflauge itself, then captured it. It inked me several times but wasn’t able to get away, and I brought it back into shallow water so that Lisa and I could watch and play with it. After a bit I returned it to deeper water and watched it swim off. There were also a lot of fish, mostly juveniles but some medium sized parrotfish and pufferfish that fled at my approach and sometimes swam into water so shallow their backs broke the surface. There was also a nice sized moray, and many small eels and crabs.
It rained all night but was pretty calm in the morning. We got ready for our passage to the Tuamotus and left in the morning, making our way around the island back the way we came. Some bottlenose dolphins visited as we approached the northeast end of the island, and we got a hookup from a big fish which got off the hook along the west side, but otherwise things were pretty mellow. A southeast wind picked up as we continued south and we sailed close hauled for a ways into the lee of Ua Pou, where we had to motor a bit before the wind picked back up.
We had good wind most of the night, though it dropped a bit towards dawn. Some squalls came through in the morning and we had intermittent light and gusty winds early on, but then the squalls left and the trades came back in for great sailing the rest of the day. I was busy almost all day with sail changes, dinghy repairs, and two tuna we caught (15 lb and 30 lb maybe) in the afternoon. I got too much sun and maybe as a result was getting pretty stressy and tossed a few things around, and went inside to cool off. Late in the afternoon a booby landed on the solar panel and stayed for hours, preening and staring at us with its beady alien eyes. It stayed on the solar panel through the night, roosting with its head tucked into its feathers and getting up to stare at me and make clucking noises when I went out into the cockpit. It started raining around 11pm and continued all night.
Around dawn it stopped raining, and the booby flew away not long after. There were isolated squalls in the morning, but it got clearer and clearer, and most of the day we had wonderful sailing. After the flurry of activity yesterday I wanted to take it easy, and spent most of the day relaxing and playing videogames. The wind continued through the night; at midnight during watch change I went forward to reef the sail, and got aggravated with a winch handle and hit it with my palm, injuring my hand. I think I was still getting stressy because it was hard for me to sleep comfortably with some back pain and continuing issues from my rib injury a week ago.
I was determined to be even lazier today than I was yesterday. We continued to have good sailing, though in early afternoon the winds started dropping and we motor sailed for a little while. The winds picked back up later and we sailed through the night, just a really dreamy and pleasant day. Despite this I was still a little grouchy in the evening due to continuing pain. I talked with Lisa about this and we decided to avoid being negative on the boat and in life and that we should call each other on that.
The great sailing continued in the morning and a relaxing time was had by all. The weather seemed to be getting sunnier and less squally as we headed south, there were a lot of puffy clouds around but we had sun all day. We were sailing pretty close to the weather and not going too fast, but this was ok as we needed to time our landfall and we reefed the sails more so that we would spend the night going 3 or 3.5 knots.
At first light we were 12 miles or so from the east pass on Makemo, our destination. We slowly sailed another couple of hours until we were within 5 miles of the entrance, then started the engines, dropped the sails, and started towards the pass. The starboard engine overheated and coolant seemed to be leaking out of it quickly, so we continued with just the port engine. Winds were in the low teens on the nose and we were towards the end of the flood (wind against tide situation). As we got close we looked into the pass and it didn’t seem too snarly, so we continued on. From when we started entering the pass to when we anchored and snorkeled around the boat was a downright dreamy experience. Turquoise shallows surrounded by deep blue water, breaking waves, palm trees, it was like a postcard. We motored around a few charted bommies and anchored near the village. We got in the water right away and found 100′ visibility, groups of fishes in midwater, and a bottom covered with small dead coral heads. The water was a little cooler than the Marquesas but felt great. After relaxing on the boat we went out snorkeling at three nearby bommies. This first taste of sea life in the Tuamotus was great, lots and lots of fish around and some good coral near the surface. The highlights were at the third bommie we visited when several white tip and a few black tip sharks were patrolling around, ignoring us but there always seemed to be one or two sharks in view. After we got back to the boat we both developed splotchy sunburn-like rashes and felt exhausted, needing to lie down. I don’t know what caused these rashes but it doesn’t seem to have been something in the water, and may have just been our bodies reacting to all the stress of the passage and the sudden flurry of activity on arrival. We went to bed early and got a good 10 hours of sleep.
We felt great in the morning. There was some wind so I went out looking for a spot to kite from, but the wind was gradually dying and marginal as is so I didn’t try to set things up. I crossed to the other side of the pass and walked around a bit in the stunning beauty, studying a potential surf spot next to the pass which looked like it might be better on a higher tide. I returned to the boat and we went diving a little bit later, at the closest bommy to where we were anchored. This was a neat dive, lots of limestone formations in 30-40′ of water. Not much coral but there were a fair number of fish and several sharks. We came back to the boat and a little while later went out again, across the pass to the spot I’d seen earlier. We did the same hike together (it was close to high tide now and the surf break looked a lot better), spotting a ray in the shallows, and then took the dinghy further into the lagoon, anchored off a beach and walked around for a while. This beach was just as stunning and walking it was pretty nice, not just for the views but also some wildlife: a shark passed just feet from shore, and a couple hermit crabs on the beach were trying to evict a third one from its shell.
After a lazy morning and breakfast we went snorkeling in the nearby pass. We would take the dinghy to a suitable point, hop in the water while holding onto it, then float along with the current. It was in the middle of the flood when we started and we were zipping along pretty quickly; when the coral ended we got back in the dinghy, motored back to the pass and started again in a different place. The coral was excellent on both sides of the pass, with lots of fish around. Every pass we saw several sharks: white tips, black tips, a couple gray. We also saw a cownose ray once. After seven or so passes we went back to Magic for lunch. Afterwards we went back out, timing the slack tide pretty well (about 1/2 hr before Rangiroa high tide) and drifted over a large shallow coral area near the pass, which had some of the best coral we had seen earlier. A couple more sharks, one of them pregnant, and lots of fish and nice coral up close. Afterwards I tried to go surfing at the spot I’d checked out earlier, but didn’t get any rides — even at high tide the waves were still breaking right on a coral shelf and I didn’t want to risk wiping out and getting smashed on the coral. I was getting a headache from getting so much sun and generally didn’t feel great, and eventually came back in and went back to Magic with Lisa to relax the rest of the afternoon.
I left in the dinghy a little before 7:00am to try to dive the pass at low water. The current was still ebbing very strongly as I got to the pass so I went ashore and hung out for half an hour or so, after which the tide seemed to be slowing down so I went in. The current was still extremely fast, at least four knots in places. I started in about 30′ of water and had a hectic first few minutes zooming over the coral and trying to get things under control, before I got spat out into the main channel and deeper water. I slowed down a little but was still going pretty fast as I went out the pass and into deeper water, at which point I finished the dive. There were some sharks, and a catamaran we knew, Te Poe Rava, came through the pass near the dinghy, but there was too much going on to really absorb much. After finishing the dive I wanted to come back in and wait until closer to slack, but I saw a mooring ball on the wall outside the pass and decided to dive there instead. This was a wonderful, mellow dive with lots of coral, lots of fish, several sharks (including some grays early on that were bold and would directly approach me at low speeds before veering away), tremendous visibility (100-150′), and easy navigation. Back at the boat I relaxed for a few hours, then we went out with Dan and Kristy from Te Poe Rava to snorkel the closest bommie — I took macro photos of some pipefish and other creatures — and to check out the site under the mooring by snorkel.
We left around 9am with Dan and Kristy to dive the site at the mooring ball. As we exited the pass we saw that the current was already flooding, instead of the ebb that we expected / wanted. When we got to the ball there was a current heading for the pass, but it was pretty weak so we started the dive. Me and Lisa stayed in 30-40′ of water, even with the base of the mooring ball, and ventured upcurrent a few hundred feet, admiring the wonderful coral. The current continued to strengthen over the dive, and after 20-30 minutes we decided to end the dive, floating back to the mooring and hanging on for our safety stop. At the surface the current was piping along at 1-1.5 knots. We finished our tanks by diving at the bommie near the anchorage, nice and mellow but the ~60′ visibility felt bad to us (we’re getting spoiled). Dan and Kristy finished their tanks by floating the pass, and reported seeing lots of sharks and other critters. This inspired me and late in the flood I went back to the pass with Lisa. The current was considerably less than when we snorkeled here a couple days ago; we did another snorkel through the pass, which was nice, then I went diving off the dinghy while Lisa at first waited in the dinghy. I had a nice time in the outer parts of the pass floating past the coral and checking out all the soldierfish hiding in the ledges on the east side of the pass. As I got further in the current slowed somewhat, lots of little fish left the coral heads to feed on plankton flowing by, plus a great variety of larger fish — triggerfish, angelfish, pufferfish — swimming about. Great conditions. The coral started to peter out and I thought about coming up, but then Lisa started snorkeling and we came across the scene described for us earlier. A large shoal of bigeye scad was down near the bottom with more than a dozen gray reef sharks in the mix, some a little interested in me but they all kept their difference. I didn’t see any predation activity but the shoal was rather frantic and it was a very exciting scene. Several dogtooth tuna were there as well. After passing the bigeye scad there was another group of bigeyes, still with sharks, and then things kind of petered out. The current was very weak at this point and I tried to swim back to the sharks, but the dinghy wasn’t having it and I continued to float away and ended the dive.
I left alone around 9am to try to dive at the mooring ball while it was still ebbing. I found conditions as expected and started the dive with a very weak surface current and no current on the bottom (during an ebb this area seems to be in a big lazy back eddy and this is the ideal time to dive it). Wonderfully relaxing with the incredible vis as usual, schools of snappers, barracuda, rainbow runners, and other fish out and about. I looked out past the wall and saw now that it didn’t stop at ~150′ as I thought, but rather had a relatively narrow sand shelf at that depth and continued to drop away into the abyss after that. I went down to 130′, looking out across the wall and back up towards the surface, which was easy to make out at this depth. I only stayed a minute, and spent the rest of the dive around 40-60′. About 15 minutes in Dan and Kristy started to dive, having arrived a little after I did. We waved to each other but did our own thing. I hung out looking for fish and reef scenes to photograph. I stayed down nearly an hour and by the end the flood had started but the current was still pretty weak. I came back to Magic and rested for a couple hours, then after lunch went out with Lisa to dive at the nearby bommie, taking macro photographs of lots of neat fishes (including several pipefishes), clams, and so forth. A nice, relaxing time.
Lisa and I went diving around 9am at the mooring ball, repeating my experience yesterday. Dan and Kristy showed up as we started and did the same dive as well. Conditions were as yesterday with weak current and the usual spectacular visibility, and we had a great time. A big school of parrotfish was the highlight, roaming the bottom and leaving a cloud of sediment in the water behind them. In the afternoon we went to shore to walk around town, which was interesting but we didn’t find much in the way of groceries.
We had stormy conditions for much of the day. We tried diving in the morning but low water slack was a lot later than expected and we weren’t too enthused about the dark conditions so aborted. It rained a lot, and then cleared up a bit in the afternoon. We went out again but found the high water slack was a lot earlier than expected and the tide was already going out. I dropped Lisa back off at the boat and went diving anyways. Conditions were good; I encountered the group of sharks, scad, and tuna in a nearby place to earlier and spent some nice time with them, getting very close to some of the sharks and good looks at all the other critters. The current picked up more on the way out and as I did my safety stop I watched the standing waves above me. I hurried up at the surface to get things ready to go and then motored back, weaving through the now largish waves.
Conditions were nice in the morning and we dove at the mooring ball, finding a little current in the expected direction but not too bad. We had a really nice dive together, going down to about 70′ (new for Lisa) and enjoying the coral and fishes. Te Poe Rava left after we got back, and In the afternoon I went out by myself to dive the pass. As usual the tide had turned earlier than expected; I got in soon after it started ebbing, and spent about 15 minutes with the sharks/scad/tuna group before drifting out of the pass at a faster speed. There was less wind and waves compared to yesterday, though, and conditions were mellower than yesterday. Halfway through the dive it rained pretty hard on the dinghy, it was neat to watch and listen to the rain falling on the surface from fifty feet below.
In the morning I did some boat projects — sealing up a leak in the stb engine coolant pump, installing new solar vents. I want to get back to an hour or two of boat projects per day. After relaxing and working the rest of the morning we went diving at low water slack around noon. We timed things just about perfectly; there was a weak ebb for the first 10 minutes of the dive, then a gentle flood carrying us deeper into the pass. After fun with the coral and many fishes out at the entrance of the pass, we finally found the sharks, tuna, and scad assembly as we started to get low on air. We still had a few minutes with them, though, which was amazing as usual and Lisa had a great time with everything. We went paddleboarding at the nearby bommie and the channel next to town in the afternoon, which was fun, but otherwise relaxed the rest of the day.
It rained a lot for much of the morning and we hung around the boat. Later it cleared up, we went into town to get some groceries and gasoline, and a little after noon went to go diving with the sharks. It was still ebbing hard and we went ashore and walked around, looking at crabs and the big surf for a while, then Lisa found a hammock with some shade nearby where we continued to wait. After about an hour and a half we went out and did a short dive with the sharks, but the current was still ebbing and we surfaced after getting blown away from them. We tried to do a second dive, but the current was even stronger and we had issues with getting too deep and general confusion with staying together and communicating while drift diving. We surfaced and went back to Magic, talked about how things went with the dive, then hung out for the rest of the day.
The morning was pretty gloomy. I did some work on the boat — going through and cleaning the contents of one of the salon lockers, which had gotten water in it — but mostly relaxed. In the afternoon we wanted to dive, but were wary after our experience yesterday. I went out by myself to look at the current, which was still ebbing but not too strongly, and thought that coming back a half hour later would be good timing for diving at slack. We went out together at the appointed time, finding the current still ebbing a little but very weakly. Near the sharks the current seemed pretty much nil, though (I think this is a small eddy that forms during ebbs) and we went diving. This was an awesome dive, one of the best since we arrived in French Polynesia. Right from the start we were surrounded by sharks. There was no current, and we just got to hang out with them for twenty minutes. Some very dense aggregations of sharks early on. The main highlight was a bigeye scad with a torn up back that came swimming right up to me, panicking, before taking off. A grouper chased after it and bit at the wounds on its back, then another fish started chasing it too, then a shark arrived and that was the end of the scad. The current turned during the dive and started carrying us away from the sharks. We passed through the bigeyes, some of which were trying to predate on sharp nosed puffers that were inexplicably swimming well off the seafloor (spawning behavior?). There were still sharks around, and this was nice, but eventually we drifted past them, the reef petered out, and we surfaced. It was rainy with poor visibility, wind and wind-against-tide waves, but we didn’t care and felt great on the ride back to Magic.
There was a nice breeze in the morning and I wanted to go kiting. After having some cereal I left in the dinghy and went to a beach we’d visited on the east side of the pass. There wasn’t as much wind here and the beach was pretty narrow, but I was still hopeful. Unfortunately as I started to inflate the kite I noticed a broken valve that would prevent me from going out. So I headed back to Magic, and talked to Lisa about kiting from the boat — going from the beach just seemed absurd here given that conditions at the boat were much better. Lisa agreed, but given our bad experiences doing this two years ago she set several rules to make for a more relaxed time, most importantly keeping safety first and no yelling. I went over my instructions from two years ago, made some changes, and started work on getting the kite ready. After what felt like an hour later I still hadn’t gotten things ready — I let the kite out, couldn’t get it to fly right, pulled it back in, let it back out, pulled it back in to fix some enormous tangles, on and on. While this was going on one of our neighbors, Adam and Alicia on Black Watch (who we knew a little from Nuku Hiva and had talked to here as well), came over with kiting gear and we made plans to head over to the boat ramp ashore. They left, then Lisa and I went to join them. There was a small area to set up but it was just large enough. With some help from Adam with the launch I got going and found great conditions, a very consistent breeze and smooth, warm water, just wonderful. I left so that Adam had more room to launch himself; I hung out in the area until he launched, but he was having trouble getting going and was picked up by Alicia not long afterwards. I made my way back to the boat ramp and talked to Lisa, then I returned to Magic while Lisa returned in the dinghy. A little bit later we went back to the boat ramp to throw away garbage, and talked to Adam and Alicia again for a while (they’d returned to shore). When we got back to Magic it was mid-afternoon but I wanted to take another crack at kiting from the boat. Things went better this time; I made one mistake (running a control line through the bridle) which crippled the kite but I was able to get it sorted out, get it flying, and go out kiting for a little while. Adam and Alicia came over to the boat for drinks and a light dinner and we talked for a while, which was really nice.
I was kind of sore in the morning but there was still a nice breeze, and after doing some boat projects and a nice breakfast I tried kiting from the boat again. This went better than yesterday, and despite a little bit of tangling I got the kite launched pretty efficiently and had a great, long session, slowly making my way upwind to the large shoal/coral area to the south and west of the pass. The waves elsewhere weren’t too bad compared to Mexico, but in the shelter of the shoal there weren’t any waves at all; I was cruising on flat water past coral heads in warm, electric blue water. It was, basically, a scene from my dreams. After a little while there the wind felt like it was dropping, and I headed downwind back to Magic and put things away. I cut up a board so it could hold the line that kept tangling, then went out with Lisa to snorkel at the spot I’d just kited at. This was really nice, there were an enormous amount of clams here and I drifted down the exposed side of the shoal, seeing many sharks (including a nurse shark, my first in french polynesia), parrotfish, and so forth. I finished circling the shoal and met up with Lisa to return to Magic.
We wanted to dive the pass in the morning but the supply ship arrived the previous afternoon and was still at the town’s wharf. We didn’t want to go diving and then have it exit the pass close by. We were kind of bummed out (about this and annoying house maintenance issues) but waited until after slack and went diving at the mooring ball, having a wonderful time which evaporated all our worries. It had been several days since we were here and everything felt fresh. There were several sharks early on, several groups of green parrotfish flitting about — at the end of the dive I saw them spawning in shallow water, leaving a milky area of egg and sperm near the surface which light diffused through — a napoleon wrasse and lots of fish I got pretty close to. The best sights were towards the end of the dive, when in succession I found two octopus out in the open. The first one retreated after Lisa got a look at it, but the second one didn’t have a good place to hide and was pretty curious regardless, staying out to peer at us as Lisa got close to it and I took photos. A really wonderful time. After getting back to Magic we talked to a boat we knew from La Paz, Tumbleweed, who had arrived yesterday and had just done some shopping. We wanted to get groceries now that the town had fresh supplies, and went ashore with bike and skateboard to head around. It was lunchtime and all the stores were closed, but Lisa found the owner of one of them who let us do some shopping and get cabbages and cucumbers and such. Skating around town was fun with the concrete roads and flat terrain. After dinner I went for a night dive under the boat while Lisa did a short snorkel. I went to the anchor and led the reel out to the end, then came back. Lots of sleepy fish, several morays, shrimps, and sea urchins.
We went diving in the morning, arriving at the pass close to the end of the flood. We did a nice and mellow dive floating in, then came up as I started getting dragged back towards the mouth of the pass by building winds inside the lagoon. We tried to dive a second time with the sharks, but the ebb was pretty strong and while we saw the sharks we only spent a few minutes with them. After getting back to Magic there was some wind and I went kiting from the boat. Pretty quickly a bolt holding one fin to the board fell out, causing that fin to spin around and make it much harder to ride. That combined with fairly light winds meant I had trouble staying upwind, and after not too long I aborted and came in to shore. After walking a bit along the beach Lisa spotted me and came in to pick me and the gear up. Afterwards I relaxed and worked the rest of the day, and we spent the evening on Tumbleweed, a boat we knew from La Paz who had arrived a couple days ago.
The wind increased to the high teens overnight and in the morning we decided against diving. I went out kiting after breakfast for a couple hours and had a great time. I quickly made it upwind to the bommie near the pass, spending a lot of time weaving around the coral there in the smooth water, riding toeside, and so forth. A couple boats were outside the pass and making their way in, and I ventured across to the other side of the pass a few times and waved as they passed by. Back at the anchorage I found they had anchored right next to us, making landing or launching the kite difficult. The anchorage was getting pretty crowded now, with nine boats instead of the three to four that we had seen up to this point. In the early afternoon I highlighted Lisa’s hair, then we went into town in late afternoon to bike and skate around a bit, which was pretty nice.
After a lazy morning we went diving at the pass at high water. We drifted past the sharks in very clear water, seeing all the usual culprits here and a little predation activity, very nice. It was still flooding and kind of windy up top so after we got past the sharks, instead of fighting things we surfaced and went for another pass. We found that it had started ebbing and was quickly getting stronger, and there was also a bold Galapagos shark near the surface following us around and doing a little circling. Lisa was having trouble clearing her ears, and with all the things going on we aborted and returned to Magic. I was interested in kiting when we got back but took a nap first after the arduous dive and the wind started dying, so we hung out on the boat the rest of the afternoon, and had Tumbleweed over for drinks and a light dinner in the evening.
We had some stress in the morning as we’d wanted to leave the anchorage today but unresolved issues with the SLC house kept us tied to the internet. We decided to stay the day and went diving in the late morning, at a bommie further away than the one we’d usually been going to previously. We had a long, mellow dive with lots of fish life, a nudibranch, shrimp, and so forth. Afterwards another guy in the anchorage, Mark, came by and we filled a tank for him. He was interested in diving with us, and we were interested in diving again, so we all went out to the mooring ball. The swell was pretty high, which seemed to reduce visibility here, but the surge was manageable and there was little current so we had a good time diving. On the way out and back in the pass there were pretty significant standing waves due to the swell going against a strong ebb.
In the morning we met up with the crew of Shindig, who we knew from La Paz and had just arrived yesterday, to go snorkeling. We went out to the nearby bommie for a little while, and then went out into the pass to float back in on the flooding tide. This was fun and we were able to steer the dinghy over the area with the sharks, tuna, and scad, which was neat to see from the surface. Back at the boat there was a nice breeze for kiting, and Shindig came over and watched while I set up and launched the kite from the boat (they’re kiters too and wanted to see the system I was using). This went smoothly and I had a great time kiting, making my way up to the large shoal and doing lots of toeside riding there (even making my way upwind while toeside, for the first time). The tide was high and I did a lot of riding back and forth over the coral. I started getting overconfident and attempted a toeside turn while in the middle of the shoal. I fell off the board into about six inches of water over sharp coral, then bodydragged off the shoal, bodydragged back to the board, then bodydragged off the shoal again. My legs were pretty scraped up and the board lost a fin in the process, so I kited back to Magic, blood running down my legs. Back at the boat the scrapes didn’t look so bad; I cleaned up and put some iodine on them, then worked on building a new line storage system for the kiting bar. I started getting pretty tired (it was getting after dark) and stopped for the day, then shortly afterwards we headed over to Mark’s boat to visit him and his family for a couple more hours. It was a great day but very long and tiring.
After breakfast we went ashore with the crews of Shindig, Pangaea, and Tumbleweed to go to a new grocery store and check out a market someone had heard about. The market never materialized but the store had some good things and it was fun to walk around with folks. Soon after we got back we headed out with the same crew (plus that of Wiz, another boat in the anchorage) to drift snorkel the pass, going several times and having a lot of fun. A couple other boats from the anchorage saw what we were doing and joined in, too. In the afternoon I went kiting and had yet another great time, heading back to the large coral shoal, riding around a lot in smooth water, over the coral, and never touched bottom. As if this wasn’t enough, soon after getting back from kiting the other three crews, plus that of a fourth who we didn’t know, came over for a potluck, and we all spent the evening in Magic’s cockpit talking and such.
It was pretty windy in the morning and we decided not to try to go diving. I tried to go kiting but had problem after problem while getting it launched. The first try there were lots of twists in the lines after the kite inverted early on, and while fixing those I let go of the kite and had to go fetch it with the dinghy. I tried again and a strap on my board broke and it floated away; I spotted it with binoculars and got it off the beach, with some scrapes. Back at the boat I tried to launch the kite in an easier way but a control line got caught on the bar and the kite did a death loop. I dumped the safety before it had a chance to do another loop and gave up for the day. All this was done safely but Lisa didn’t like seeing it or being around it at all. We wanted to do stuff together the rest of the day, and after a couple hours later tried to go snorkeling. Before leaving I got obsessed with untangling the float line, and had a mini-meltdown after the stress of the day. We went into the cockpit to talk, but things just felt bad and it took some time before we felt good enough to go snorkeling. The actual snorkeling was fun, we were both free diving a bit and enjoying being close to each other.
It was a little windy in the morning and after the stress of yesterday we decided to not go diving. Instead, it was time to leave the anchorage, traveling with Shindig, Pangaea, and another boat, Alcyone, to the east end of the atoll to wait out some strong winds that were expected in a couple days. We got the anchor up ok, despite it being caught on limestone in a few places, then motored with both engines for 2.5 hours nearby the other boats. It was sunny and we were able to spot the bommies easily, and the passage was pretty nice. After anchoring in 20′ of clear water with sand and scattered coral heads we felt this was a wonderful spot to be. We did some snorkeling, then took the dinghy ashore to explore, walking along the beach, over to the ocean side (lots of big rocks on the beach here, so no surfing, but it would be interesting to look for lobsters here), into the forest for a bit, then back to the boat. With my scrapes and an achy knee I wasn’t enjoying the walking a lot but it was still nice to be out.
In the morning Lisa went ashore with the ladies from the other boats to walk around for a couple hours. When she got back we did a short dive at the coral heads under the boat, seeing some small fish and having a fun time. After that I went ashore to go kiting; there is a big sand beach here with easy launching and lots of shoal areas to check out. Winds were relatively light but I was able to get around fine and had a great time. The folks from Shindig and Pangaea were ashore too for kiting, but only Rob from Shindig was able to get a lot of riding in, as he also had a directional board. Along the way I saw a black tip shark and a turtle. I rested at the boat an hour and then we motored to an area I’d been kiting in which was close to the east edge of the atoll. I hopped off in chest deep water, then dragged the dinghy (with Lisa on it) into shallower water. There was a pretty strong current here: inflow into the lagoon from the huge breakers outside. I had to struggle with the dinghy, and even after getting out it was tiring to walk into the current. We gradually made it almost to the edge, which was an awesome experience as we looked at this unique place; an awash reef, top scoured flat, dropped off into the abyss with waves crashing onto it. Towards the outer edge there were lots of fish hiding from the current behind rocks, and I saw a black tip shark dart away. After making our way back we had drinks on the beach with the other boats, and dinner together on Shindig.
In the morning Lisa went ashore again to walk around. I left around the same time to a spot I’d scoped out yesterday, a big pool of deep blue water surrounded by shallows. I wanted to use this as a sort of kiddie pool for working on using the foil board. I launched with difficulty, having some tangle and crossed line issues (and, after my experience a few days ago, suspecting the foil was cursed) but eventually got sorted out. I had some success with the foil, clumsily riding it for several seconds at a time. After a while I crashed the kite on the water and it quickly deflated. Fortunately I’d picked this location with such an event in mind, and I drifted a little ways into the shallower water, tied up the board and kite to a rock, and walked / swam back to the dinghy. This was kind of tiring but wasn’t stressful, things were happening the way they should. When I got back to the dinghy I picked the stuff up, then headed back to Magic (the kite was fine, it deflated because a valve I had put in recently popped open). Lisa got back minutes later, and we went for a short dive under the boat, doing a photo shoot with the boat and coral underneath. Not long after the dive I went back to shore to go kiting, this time trying out a surf board I’d had for a while, no foil but no straps either. I initially used a 7m kite, which was undersized, then went to a 13m and had a good time, quickly learning how to do a strapless water launch and then riding and gybing the board pretty good. More life in the shallows, I saw an eagle ray and another turtle. Not too long afterwards the wind picked up substantially, and I was overpowered. I made it back to shore ok and got everything put away as the beach we’d launched from was being erased by the flooding tide. Back at Magic we went for another dive at the coral head under the boat. I didn’t have a camera and still spent half an hour peering around; there were some little critters like tiny 2mm snails on the coral, and it was interesting seeing the same fish as we had on previous dives — resident groupers, butterflyfishes, wrasses, dascyllus and so forth. This is their home and the ecology and diversity of the community here is fascinating.
I went ashore in the morning to go kiting. Winds were strong / turbulent and I stopped pretty soon. Most of the rest of the day I worked on rebuilding the center block of the watermaker’s clark pump. We tried snorkeling in some shallow areas but the current was very strong, so we did a drift snorkel over the bommies out to Magic. Afterwards everyone had dinner on Alcyone.
Early in the morning I finished rebuilding the clark pump, installed it and watched it drip a lot of water into the guts of the 110v feed pump, which shut down. I rinsed it and let it dry, then repaired the clark pump (an o ring was damaged during reassembly) and ran it with the 12v feed pump, which worked ok. A little bit later Lisa went ashore in the morning for a walk with the other ladies. I went ashore to try to go kiting, but everything was underwater and I didn’t feel like setting up my gear. I started trying to set things up on the boat, but Mike from Pangaea came by and we worked for a while on fixing a leak in his kite, which went well. Lisa got back and we went diving, visiting several bommies in 15-20′ of water and having fun looking at all the different communities. Afterwards I was still determined to go kiting. I went ashore, took a while getting my lines set up, and as soon as the kite got some wind it hit some coral on the ground and popped. I went back to Magic to start on repairing it, feeling pretty frustrated. Some folks who lived nearby visited in their boat, playing music and sharing some coconuts and palm hearts with us, really nice. It was an ok day, but pretty exhausting and I fell asleep early.
I got up a little after 3am and spent a couple hours repairing the kite’s leading edge with a sewing awl and some ripstop tape. I got the kite together and inflated it, then fixed a couple pinhole leaks at another spot in the bladder, and then the kite finally seemed to be able to hold air. With that done I started work on the watermaker, finding that the 110v feed pump worked now but I had a lot of trouble reinstalling it and was running low on time as we wanted to go ashore to walk around with the folks on the other boats. I was having a lot of trouble and was feeling very stressed so set up the dinghy so Lisa could go in by herself. After that I worked on the watermaker some more, but mostly just sat in the bedroom feeling terrible and lonely. When Lisa returned three hours later we talked a little and I felt a little better but still pretty off. Later we went snorkeling, which was nice, and shortly afterwards went to a dinner on Pangaea. In the evening we talked about the problems we’d been having over the past days. We get into negative feedback loops with each other and I need to remember to not let things upset me and to be able to disconnect from them if I start getting obsessed with problems.
In the morning there was wind so I went ashore and got the kite set up, with the Shindig crew’s help, as the beach started to disappear. Unfortunately just after launching the wind died and the kite dropped in the water, and the repair I did yesterday failed as I launched. My backup 12m kite was leaking in multiple places, so I didn’t get to go kiting, but didn’t let this get to me. A little while later Pangea’s crew came over and we went to the beach together, walking to the east end of the island along the beach and having a nice time looking at the scenery and the beach. At the beginning and end of our walk we visited a shack where the locals were staying, and we talked to them a while. This was really nice, they were very friendly and were there harvesting coconuts and just having a great peaceful life making moonshine and smoking weed. Around noon we went back to the boat and quickly left to return to the village, 10 miles away. The passage was nice and uneventful, but it was windy as we entered the anchorage. Our initial anchoring left us close to a neighboring boat, REDACTED, who glared at us, radioed us, and then came over to ask us to move. We did, with difficulty — I had to dive to clear the chain where it was caught on a piece of limestone — then moved to the outside of the anchorage. Pangaea came in about the same time, anchored in the wrong place and also got their anchor stuck. I came over and dove to free their anchor, then back to Magic. Pangaea came by later and we hung out for a little while, very enjoyable.
It was grey and raining off and on in the morning, with winds that built to the mid-20s. We’d been planning on leaving the atoll, but decided against this early on. I did some kite repair, and in mid morning as it cleared a bit went kiting for a while, feeling lots of power even with the 7m kite. This went well, though, and I had lots of fun in the usual spot before heading back to Magic. Most of the rest of the day we hung out; we went ashore to get some Basil and over to Shindig to trade photos and video, but that was about it. In mid-day, when conditions were still very windy and grey, REDACTED left the anchorage to travel through the atoll to the east. Presumably they were seeking less wavy conditions, but watching them heading out was one of the stupidest things I’d seen in a long, long time. In late afternoon the winds abruptly dropped significantly and shifted to the north, with weather clearing a bit. Calm conditions continued through the night. Thinking about it afterwards, it seemed like the snarly weather may have been a cold front moving over us.
Weather was nice in the morning and we got ready to leave. I started raising the anchor but it seemed like it would get caught so I went diving and raised the anchor itself with a lift bag, which made getting the rest of thie stuff up pretty easy. We left the pass and sailed for most of the day on a broad reach, navigating past a couple of atolls as we headed towards Fakarava. In the late afternoon the wind came down so we started motoring, and shortly before sunset we caught the biggest tuna yet, over 40 pounds I’m sure. The wind stayed down and we motored all night.
We did a little sailing in the morning but mostly motored the rest of the way to Fakarava. We got through the north pass around noon, then motored the remaining five miles to town, anchoring among some other boats a little to the south of the town center. There was no WiFi and we didn’t know where to go, but after some hailing, research, and talking to a woman ashore we found Fakarava Yacht Services, run by a really nice woman, Stephanie, with some services including really slow internet access. We spent an hour or two there, then did some shopping before the stores closed.
We headed in during the morning with our bike and skateboard to try to find Sofie and her vegetable shop, but used bad information from our cruising guide and went the wrong way for several miles, seeing some of the atoll in the process. This was nice but I was dehydrated and had no water so it was kind of difficult. Eventually we gave up, returned to town and talked to Stephanie who said the shop was less than a kilometer in the other direction. Oh well, we found Sofie’s shop and got lots of pamplemousse and some other badly needed fruits and vegetables, then used the internet for a while. I skated into town to do some shopping in the brief window after church finished (it was nice seeing so many happy townfolk walking about), then back to the yacht services place, then skated around town a while to try to find a Vinispot and hopefully better internet. No luck, but we were able to get what we needed done and went back to Magic, pulling our anchor and leaving in the early afternoon to continue south through the atoll for 10 miles to the Pakokota resort, anchoring in a pretty area with several other boats. We went into shore and talked to Matthieu, the owner, and his friend for a bit, then several other cruisers for a while.
In the morning Lisa tried to use the very weak internet for work tasks, while I did some boat stuff. I changed some oil in the port saildrive, whose oil was very slowly getting creamier. I sure hope this is a leak that stays stable or disappears, rather than getting worse. We left in the late morning and motorsailed for a few hours to Fakarava’s south pass, anchoring nearby several other boats. We both went snorkeling, checking out a couple of remoras on the port hull which I think had been with us since at least Rotoava. I did a long dive to move the anchor to a suitable spot and then set a second anchor, as the anchorage has a lot of limestone formations and mostly dead coral on the bottom and avoiding snags would be good.
We both went snorkeling in the morning a little after the flood tide started, watching where the dive boats were going and then following the divers themselves to see the route they took through the pass. This was nice, with lots of sharks around, a napoleon wrasse, and so forth. Pretty deep so hard to see a lot. Afterwards I went diving by myself in the same spot, shadowing other divers through the same route, seeing several hundred sharks lazily swimming in the current. Very cool. Later on we went snorkeling again, checking out some shallow areas on the west side of the pass. This was excellent, we saw a lot of blacktip sharks cruising around, many fish on the coral heads, and a big anemone with an anemonefish, our first! He was very cute swimming among the tentacles and eyeing us warily.
In the morning I did some repair work on the larger kites, and then went diving on my own (Lisa was feeling sick). I went diving on the same route through the pass again, seeing more great shark and fish life. Afterwards the wind started to build, and after a bit I started getting ready to kite. By the time I was ready the wind had dropped, and I packed things up without going out. Later on Lisa was feeling better, and we went back to the snorkeling area on the west side of the pass. I brought my camera and a tank so I could take photos of the anemonefish.
Lisa needed to use the internet for doing some tasks, and we left at 7am to look for a place with internet access. The first place we went to, a dive outfit and resort near the pass, had WiFi, so Lisa stayed for a few hours while I returned to the boat and went kiting. This was pretty nice, the wind was a little light and gusty but I was able to get pretty far upwind, heading through the anchorage and near a bommie and nice shore area, getting some GoPro footage. Afterwards I went for another dive in the pass, seeing a trio of spotted eagle rays, really nice. I put a hook on the float line so I could attach myself or the dinghy to the reef, which made managing the dinghy a lot easier than it has been in the past. I picked up Lisa and we relaxed for a couple hours before trying to dive again, heading back to the pass. I was hoping we would be diving during the last part of the flood, but when we arrived it was right around slack and the ebb started up quickly. We went for a short dive right around the buoy on the outside of the pass, but this was still very nice and it was great to be diving with Lisa, we were very relaxed afterwards.
In the morning we went diving together in the pass, coming in on the flood current as I’d done previously. We saw the trio of spotted eagle rays, and all the usual sharks and many, many fish. There were a lot more groupers than on previous dives; this was the day of the full moon, which we’d made sure to arrive at the south pass by. The groupers congregate in huge numbers here during certain full moons. They were all over the reef, usually several at a time in pockets sheltered from the current, but as we got deeper into the atoll they were almost carpeting the reef in places, several hundred of them. After the dive I went kiting for an hour or so, having fun and getting some more GoPro footage. After that I got the idea of snorkeling/diving with the groupers using a side mount 19 cuft pony bottle. I spent a couple hours building this, then went out and had a real mess of an experience. The tide had turned earlier than expected and I was heading out on the ebb tide tangled up in lines, not able to manage my camera and the dinghy and the pony bottle all at the same time.
In the morning we dove the pass together again, having a great time. Early on we had the dilemma of whether to focus our attention on the four eagle rays swimming around, two amorous titan triggerfish, several whitetips resting on the sand, or the dozens of grey reef sharks floating in the channel. Later on there were still great sights, and the groupers seemed to be even more concentrated than the previous day. After the dive I went and did a second short dive to get some footage of the huge groups of groupers, and then went snorkeling over them a few times with Lisa. Later on we went ashore to do a little hiking.
I dropped Lisa off in the morning to use the internet, and after some sandal repair went out diving on my own. I went to a mooring ball outside the pass, in 70′ of water. I was using the float line as I didn’t know how much current there would be, but there wasn’t much so I hooked the line to a limestone feature early on and then looked around. The wall here was much steeper than at Makemo, and I went down to 130′ to have a look around. A fish I was interested in was deeper, around 150′, and I impulsively decided to keep going, heading all the way down to 200′ before ascending. I was feeling pretty narced that far down and it took a little bit of time to disappate as I ascended to shallower depths. Back near the mooring ball I looked for the dinghy’s float line but didn’t see it, and got very concerned. I started to ascend, did a one minute deco stop, then surfaced and saw the dinghy pretty far away and drifting to shore. I swam for it, not aggressively but with expediency, hoping the waves wouldn’t smash it up too badly. As I got closer I saw the dinghy had turned into the wind and stopped floating; this was a great relief and when I arrived I saw the float line had snagged on a coral head and prevented the dinghy from going ashore. Pure dumb luck. I descended again and took the dinghy out into deeper water, going through the rest of my tank at 20′-30′ as the tidal current took me partially into the pass, after which I finished the dive.
There was some wind and I went kiting in the morning, which was fun. Afterwards we relaxed, and in the afternoon went in to shore and walked all the way around the motu which the Tetamanu village is on. Shindig, Pangaea, and Alcyone came through the pass in the afternoon.
We went to shore with Pangaea in the morning to check out the services and all the life around the docks there. Afterwards everyone went snorkeling in the area with the anemonefish. After that we went back to Magic to get ready to dive, while everyone else snorkeled the pass. We dove in the pass, seeing all the sharks, a napoleon wrasse, and some other stuff. The grouper had cleared out over the preceding two days and only a few were around, but there was still lots of life. In the afternoon everyone went to Shindig to play Liar’s Dice and hang out; we stayed for an hour and a half or so and then went back to Magic for dinner.
Around noon we went diving in the pass, with visibility relatively poor (70-80′) and not many sharks. Conditions were still nice, though, with several napoleon wrasse and such. The wind increased afterwards and I tried foiling, having a little success but pretty stymied by the winds dropping back down and making water launching very hard. Pretty quickly I gave up and dumped the kite, got a cut on my eye while removing a line from the foil, then waited for Lisa to come and rescue me. In the evening we had the crews from Shindig, Pangaea, and Alcyone over for dinner.
The wind built to the high teens in the morning and I went out on the foil again. The stronger winds helped a lot and I made quite a bit of progress, improving my launching and riding skills with the foil and feeling for the first time like I was getting some real rides, and was able to make it back to Magic at the end of the session. I swallowed a lot of saltwater and hit my groin on the board, but still felt great afterwards. We went ashore to see Dan and Kristy from Te Poe Rava, who were visiting the south pass as part of a dive trip they’d organized. We pulled the anchor with difficulty — I had to dive twice and float both anchors we were using to avoid snags — and then motored into strong winds for six miles to the east end of the island. When we arrived I tried to go kiting again with my strapless surfboard, but the wind dropped soon after I started and I had a lot of trouble flying, and Lisa came to rescue me again. In the evening we went ashore for drinks and then dinner with the other boats (plus Tumbleweed, who had just arrived from the north pass) at a really nice restaurant on shore, just us and the crew of another boat.
Winds were pretty light in the morning and we went out paddling, me on a board and Lisa in the kayak. We went out to the east tip of the island checking things out, enjoying some quiet areas with little fish nurseries, then headed back to Magic. A couple hours later the winds were even lighter and we took the dinghy two miles west to a pretty little island we’d seen on the way here. Very nice to walk around, with lots of birds in the trees, some interesting tidepooling (found a moray under some rocks, which fled quickly whenever I uncovered us), a group of twenty hermit crabs on the beach, and good snorkeling. Some drinks with the other boats on the beach and then a relaxing evening on Magic.
Winds continued to be light and we pretty much just hung out on the boat all day, relaxing, then had drinks with Pangaea and Tumbleweed (the other two boats left during the day) on the beach.
We left around 7am to head back to the south pass and try to dive while it was still flooding. We got a mooring ball and were ready to go at our designated time but the tide had already turned so we started inside the village and rode the tide out most of the way to the mooring balls near the mouth of the pass. Visibility wasn’t great and the sharks weren’t too concentrated but it was nice to be in the water again. The swell was up and a little while later we brought the dinghy to the village and I went out with my surfboard while Lisa looked for shells on the beach. I never got a ride but I did get tumbled in the surf a couple times without contacting the bottom, so I guess that counts as a success.
We dove in the morning on the flood tide close to slack, which was nice and relaxing but there weren’t very many sharks around (they seem to like the current and hang out in particular spots when it’s running stronger), still a nice dive. Afterwards I went back to the surf break and tried boogie boarding, having a lot more success than yesterday and getting several good rides.
We left at 7:30am with Tumbleweed, who had arrived in the anchorage a couple days ago, to go snorkeling. I got confused by the tides and thought we were at the end of the flood when we were really close to the beginning. As such we snorkeled the pass first. Visibility was poor and it was hard to see the sharks all the way down there, but we did see a couple of eagle rays pirouetting around each other which was great, and zooming over the coral at the end was fun as always. Afterwards we all headed to the snorkeling area to the east to look at the anemonefish. Visibility was incredible, 150’+, and it was super fun snorkeling around in such conditions. We did a little photo shoot with the anemonefish, and since it was clearly flooding stronger now we all headed back to the pass. Tumbleweed snorkeled it again while we went diving. Visibility was much, much better and we had a great time; there were hundreds of sharks in the places we were used to seeing them, got a lot of great pictures of them with Lisa, just a very intense experience. Later on I went boogie boarding again, getting some more good rides but getting carried into the shallows and then tumbled by a wave, which gave me several scrapes. Tumbleweed came over for dinner and we had a very nice evening.
We dove in the morning on the flood tide, timing things about the same as yesterday. There was still incredible visibility and tons of sharks, but we weren’t so focused on getting pictures so had a more relaxed time. Really nice dive. Later on I was fixing a leak and got frustrated with the headliner and impulsively broke one of the pieces in half; we talked and decided I can’t be just breaking things out of frustration, this is a very old habit that suddenly resurfaced. Anyways, I went boogie boarding and Lisa came along to get some photos, got several good rides and was tumbled a couple times but didn’t contact the bottom.
It was pretty rainy for much of the day. In the morning I went out for a solo dive, starting at the wall outside the pass. I checked out the area around the mooring, went down to 130′ (my limit as agreed on with Lisa after the first time I dove here), went back to the mooring ball, and then drifted on the current to the mouth of the pass and through the shallower water above the normal place where we do the pass dive (I was low on air and high on nitrogen). Later on the rain stopped and there was some wind so I went kiting. After about 20 minutes the wind pretty much completely died within a couple of minutes, and I was drifting out towards the mouth of the pass, swam close to shore and then got rescued by Lisa.
In the morning there were strong south winds (offshore winds, coming off the palm trees and other structure on the beach) and I went kiting. This was pretty nice for a while. A lot of the winds were very gusty from blowing over the trees and I went looking for places with cleanear air. I found some downwind of Magic, but on trying to come back I got frustrated with the gusty winds in the anchorage and made my way upwind near the pass. When I tried to cross back to Magic I went over some surface coral that I didn’t see until I was right on top of it (it was very cloudy). I hit the coral, a fin broke off the board and I fell onto the coral, getting several scrapes. The kite and lines were ok and I started riding again, but with the gusty and very strong winds and a missing fin I was having a lot of trouble getting upwind to Magic, and eventually tried to cut across the anchorage and go ashore to hike back. The kite became unflyable as I got close to the beach and as I tried to swim in the lines got tangled on the coral. Lisa came by a few minutes later as I got the kite under control, and she rescued me yet again. One of the kite lines broke and there were some dings on the surfboard but no other damage. An hour or so later I felt ok and we went diving in the pass, zooming through close to the height of the flood and seeing all the usual critters, very nice. In the afternoon I repaired the broken kiting stuff and then we relaxed.
In the late morning we went for a dive in the pass, having a very enjoyable last dive with these sharks and other critters for a while. Afterwards we moved the boat to Hirifa, at the east end of the atoll. There was some breeze here and I went kiting, using the surfboard and having a good time for 45 minutes or so; I could stay upwind but the outflowing current in the nearby shallows from waves breaking on the reef kept me from getting too far from Magic. Pangaea arrived in the anchorage in the late afternoon and we went over there for drinks and snacks.
It was pretty gloomy most of the day with some rain, but in the morning I went out kiting with the hydrofoil. I was able to stay upwind easily and made a fair amount of progress in riding the board, foiling close to the water and keeping things under control. Afterwards we relaxed for a while, and in the afternoon went to shore with Pangaea to go for a hike, going through the palms and then along the shoreline around to the ocean side. Sights included a large variety of crabs, a wild pig that caused us to turn around from our palm tree exploration, and several baby blacktip sharks in a shallow estuary.
It was sunny in the morning (yay!) and I went paddling with Lisa and Katie from Pangaea ashore. This was pretty fun, we saw the baby sharks again — they seemed to be predating on a school of baby goatfish. When I got back to Magic there was some wind and I tried to go kiting, but this was short lived: the wind dropped by the time I was ready to go and I tried anyways, only to watch the kite flop down into the water without ever getting up and riding. Lisa rescued me quickly but I was kind of bummed out and we relaxed by watching a movie together in the afternoon. In the evening we had drinks on Pangaea with them and the crew of another boat in the anchorage.
In the morning I got up and got the boat ready for passage. We left in mid morning for the south pass, picked up a mooring and waited a couple hours while Lisa tried to use the internet and I made a fix to the starboard engine (the alternator bolt had sheared again) and wrapped the broken whisker pole with several layers of fiberglass. The latter took longer than expected and we left later than we wanted to for the south pass itself. The tide had turned already and was flooding pretty strongly, but we powered through and made it out the pass without trouble. The pass was as beautiful as ever; we’d spent much of the day reminiscing about how amazing this trip has been and talking excitedly about coming back next year. Just outside the pass we got a hookup on a line but the fish spit out the hook, then we motored on around the southern end of Fakarava and turned west towards our destination, Raiatea.
We motored through the night, with a couple brief attempts to sail, then in the morning the wind picked up and I set out the genoa on a pole, which took an annoying amount of time but ended up ok. We were on a broad reach with a triple reefed main, and later in the morning the wind moved behind us and I dropped the main. This was nice for a bit but we were only making about 4 knots so I put up the spinnaker, which took a couple tries and had some difficulties (especially with all the injuries on my hands) but eventually got up alright as well. We were making 5-5.5 knots and having a great sail through the afternoon. Around 4pm we hooked a mahi mahi. Reeling it in was an amazing experience; it is a gorgeous fish and watching the flashes of green and blue at the surface of the water was really cool. Two other big mahi were in the area and came right up to the boat. When I got the hooked mahi in close it repeatedly jumped out of the water, clearly visible in its struggle to get away. I gaffed and killed it on the swim step, then brought it aboard; a huge fish, around forty pounds, very long and flexible compared to the tuna we’ve been catching up to now. We dropped the spinnaker to catch the fish and then I put the genoa back up by itself for the night. We sailed most of the way through the night at 3.5-4 knots and then motored the last part as the wind continued to drop.
In the morning I put up the spinnaker, which we used for most of the day, making 6+ knots most of the time. In the late afternoon I dropped it and put up the genoa and mainsail on a broad reach, which we maintained through the night, making decent speed.
When I got up in the morning we weren’t going so fast and I started both engines so that we would arrive in Raiatea by the early afternoon. Weather was a little squally (unlike the previous two days, which had some of the clearest weather we’ve seen all season) as we rounded Huahine and made the rest of the way. As we approached Raiatea there were some intense squalls we saw hitting the island in various places, but when we reached the pass things were clear and we motored on through, then north past Uturoa to anchor in shallow water (7′) near some other boats. We were tired from the passage and weather was lousy so we hung out on the boat the rest of the day.
In the morning I started decommissioning, and not long after dawn we went into town to check things out. We walked around, shopped for food, talked to some folks, then headed back to Magic. Later we went in with trash and Lisa stayed behind to use the internet and explore on her own, while I waited on Magic for a few hours, still pretty tired. When I went in to pick Lisa up we walked around, and, drawn to music coming from a recreational center type area we sat it on a practice (I guess) dance with several guys on drums, a ukulele, a conch, and dozens of dancers doing a really long, physical, coordinated dance with each other. We spent about 45 minutes there, with the dance continuing the entire time until when we left. Watching the dance was fascinating, a really cool experience. In the late afternoon I went kiting from the boat, but squalls started coming in soon after I started so I only stayed out for 20 minutes or so.
We spent several hours on decommissioning, then headed into town to try to have lunch. It was sunday, and all businesses in town were closed, so we walked around a bit and then went back to Magic. There was some wind and I went kiting for an hour or so, and then we went snorkeling together for two hours or so. This was nice, the shelf area to the south of the anchorage was ok with some coral and fishes and two morays living together in the same hole (very unusual), and then we found a better area near a small island west of the anchorage which had sights including lots of frilly, delicate coral, some coral heads with hundreds of juvenile chromis hiding in them, and an anemone with five anemonefish of different sizes and a dozen dascyllus (black with two white/blue spots) living in it.
We had a nasty fight during the night and in the morning I was pretty distressed. I did a little decommissioning work in the morning, and we went in around lunchtime to try to get to the Gendarme, which was closed, and have lunch, where Lisa left before the food had arrived and didn’t return until I was about to leave the place. We went back to Magic, and I kited while Lisa snorkeled, then we did some decommissioning work. Not a great day.
It was calm in the morning and we dinghied a few miles to the carenage to see them and talk about the haulout. Afterwards we took the dinghy south of Uturoa and snorkeled in the pass which we’d entered the atoll through, finding surprisingly poor visibility but some good coral and fishes in the shallows, especially an area with many large anemones with resident anemonefish and dascyllus. We cut things short when some weather started threating, and headed back to Magic. The wind came up in the afternoon and I went out kiting for the last time of the season.
In the morning we moved the boat to the anchorage in front of the carenage. We brought a couple people from the carenage out to the boat to measure it for the haulout, then we waited for them to get ready. Eventually they radioed us and we brought the boat to the ramp, where we floated Magic over a platform they had assembled. It took a few hours, but they were very careful getting the boat ready to be lifted, and pulled the platform out of the water with a tractor. Very interesting procedure, different from and slower using a travelift but definitely less stressful for us. We spent the rest of the day decommissioning.
After a little decommissioning work, we were picked up by a boat at 9am for a tour that lasted all day. We had a great time visiting several places (pearl farm, snorkeling, great lunch, vanilla plantation) as we circumnavigated Taha’a.
I woke up early and we spent the day finishing decommissioning the boat. I was in considerable pain most of the day due to REDACTED, which continued as we flew back to the US in the evening.